Date of Award

8-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Chemistry

Advisor

Cooper, Melanie M

Committee Member

Bhattacharyya , Gautam

Committee Member

Cook , Michelle P

Abstract

The emergence of embodied cognition as a theory of learning has placed new emphasis on the interdependent relationship between what the mind perceives and what the body experiences. Movement and objects in the physical environment take on significant roles in the process of learning within this view and the role of gesturing in cognition has become increasingly interesting. Significant research suggests that the physical process of gesturing is connected to how the mind processes information. Gesturing during the recall of information is a universally known phenomena and one that seems to aid in the process of recall. More recent findings have suggested that the use of gestures may play a helpful role in assisting learners with processing information and particularly with retaining information longer. This study investigates this claim by using intentional gestures at the time of encoding new information to assist a group of first year chemistry students in high school process how to identify and label Lewis acids and bases in reaction schemes. A treatment group received an intervention lesson where key concepts were instantiated with the use of related gestures while the control group received the same lesson without the use of gestures. The intervention lesson involved students using BeSocratic, a web-based, interactive system currently under development. Performance was assessed with a pre-post test and a delayed post-test administered three weeks after the intervention to determine if the treatment group would retain the concepts significantly better than the control group. The results showed that two groups of students with similar backgrounds in the material exhibited similar gains in information from the intervention lesson. However, when given the same assessment three weeks later, the group of students who had received the gesture enhanced lesson significantly outperformed those students who did not. The gains were limited to questions most directly linked to the gestures. The results are part of a small but growing body of evidence that suggests that the use of gestures during the encoding of new information does offer a tool to help learners retain information.

Included in

Chemistry Commons

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